Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lebron Needs Help

My strongest feeling about yesterday is relief. We avoided our lean on the Lakers, and dodged that debacle, and we avoided our MLB leans on the Rockies in game one of their double-header, as well as the Royals. So, while we did go 1-2, and dropped juice (lost two 1* plays - Brewers, Bobcats - and won a 2* on Bucks), that is just about as well as yesterday could have gone.

And I know what you're thinking -it could have gone a heck of a lot better if we just played the one winner! And you're right. There's absolutely no reason to be pleased with holding mostly steady, but I firmly believe that days when we can look back and cite a number of bad plays that we avoided is a small moral victory that paves the way for the upcoming beefy winning days that are right around the corner.

Difficult NBA card today, and no reason to toss units around haphazardly, so what we're going to do is make today our 1* Discounted Top Play Package, and just try to keep the positive NBA Playoff momentum going. As always, MLB Free Plays will be posted at the Pro Page and tweeted.

Sports Wagering: NBA

Celtics @ Heat - Miami by 1 with a total of 185. This is a pretty hefty line move, given Boston came in and beat the Heat as a 4.5 point underdog. A three point swing just because Boston won that game? Not likely. This line is moving because the Heat are expected to roll over and call it a series, and honestly, they probably will. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs, and the Heat, completely overmatched in two games in Boston and then dealing with that backbreaking loss in game three, just don't really seem to have a chance. I believe Dwyane Wade's issue was a cramp, though I'm not entirely sure, and the only real motivation the Heat are going to have in this one is to play hard enough to try to show Dwyane Wade that there's some sort of a future in Miami. But, let's be honest, the only thing that's going to keep Wade in Miami is another star, and I'm not talking about an aging veteran that disappears come Playoff time (Jermaine, we're looking at you). I'm talking about a significant addition - someone like a Chris Bosh would do nicely. So, why should the Heat play hard? I think they'll come out and hang with the Celtics for a quarter, but this Boston team is packed with veterans that know how to close out a series. Lean to Boston to win this game and send the Heat fishin'. The total of 185 is an adjustment off the 198 points we saw scored in the last game, but if indeed this one gets a little less intense as the game progresses, it could potentially go over again. Still, that number feels about right for a final score. No lean on the total, yet.

Cavaliers @ Bulls - Cleveland by 6 with a total of 194. Okay, so, wait a minute. We just saw the line in the Boston game come down 2.5 points off a Boston road win, and we established at least SOME of that move was the motivational factor. But this one moved 2 points off a Chicago outright win as a 3.5-point underdog. An opposite direction line move is a pretty strong statement by the oddsmakers that the Cavs come out and play this one tougher. It almost seemed like Cleveland was trying to figure out just how hard they had to play to beat the Bulls in game two at home, then brought that same effort on the road and got leveled in the first half. Cleveland came back to make a game of it, but Chicago held on for a huge win to cut their deficit in the series down to just 2-1. This line feels inflated, but considering Chicago won a a 3.5-point underdog, it also feels like it's a "high for a reason" situation. I would be very careful before jumping on Chicago, here, figuring that if they can win one, and now they're getting more points, then surely they can cover this one. Still, people are invariably going to bet on Lebron no matter the spread, so it's tough to say that one side is the "value" play, here. Slight lean to Cleveland to exert some dominance, though winning by 5.5 on the road in the Playoffs isn't going to be easy. The total of 194 is interesting, as the last two games in this series have hit 214. After game two, oddsmakers adjusted the total up a couple points, but after game three, the total remained, basically, the same. Oddsmakers don't like games to keep hitting the same result, so to me, this line is an indicator that they feel this one slows down a bit. Slight lean to the Under.

Mavericks @ Spurs - San Antonio by 2.5 with a total of 193. Another side coming down despite the home team winning, and covering, at a higher number. This one is the smallest adjustment we've seen so far, which tells me oddsmakers were pretty pleased with how the last one went. The Spurs were 3 or 3.5-point favorites, and won by 4. Nicely done by the books, yet again. So, assuming the Mavericks try to steal back home court, this side is lower by a point. Will the Mavs pull it off? Tough to say. The Spurs have pushed them around a little bit the last two games, and the veterans of San Antonio are really hitting their stride. I think that the short adjustment on the line might actually mean there's a tiny bit of value on the Mavs side (since we saw pretty standard 2-point moves - or more - in the other game fours above). The Spurs could just as easily win this game by double digits, though I think Dallas fights like crazy to keep this thing close. I didn't see anything in game three, though, to make me think that Dallas had solved San Antonio. Absolutely the world's smallest lean to Dallas, and this could change. The total of 193 is only a half point lower than the total in game three, which ended with a final score of 184, so the money must have been split, and oddsmakers didn't have to move it, much. If Dallas is going to get this one, they're going to need to speed things up a little bit and hit some shots. If I have the world's tiniest lean to Dallas, I should pair that with the world's second-tiniest lean to the Over.

Nuggets @ Jazz - Utah by 2 with a total of 212. Just about the same number as in game three on the side, and a couple points lower on the total. No surprise, really, considering, as noted, we've seen most of these sides drop by roughly 2 points if the game was relatively close. This one wasn't. The Jazz just kept applying pressure until the Nuggets missed shots, and Utah absolutely ran away with it. After watching game three, it's tough to see the Nuggets coming back to grab home court. They looked lost, and every time Utah made a shot, it seemed like they fell farther and farther out of focus. And for that reason, I would say that this game is best avoided. When one team looks that horrible, that team is going to have some value in the next one, but only if you actually believe they can win, and I'm not sure I do. No lean on the side. The total of 212 is lower by a fair amount compared to the last game, but does Denver play that poorly again? The game slowed down considerably in game three, and if the teams shoot their normal percentage, we probably see a final score around 208-210. This one might be too close to call, though if Denver shoots a little better and Utah a little worse, it could stay under again. This is my avoid game on both side and total, at least for now.

Sports Wagering: MLB

National League

Padres (-120) @ Reds with a total of 9; C. Richard vs. H. Bailey;
Everth Cabrera is 1-for-3 with a HR off Bailey;
Adrian Gonzalez is 3-for-6 with a HR and 2 RBI off Bailey;
Scott Hairston is 2-for-4 with a HR off Bailey;
Jonny Gones is 1-for-2 with a HR and 2 RBI off Richard.
The Padres have won 8 in a row. Ride the wave if you want, I won't stop you.

Dodgers (-155) @ Nationals with a total of 9.5; C. Billingsley vs. S. Olsen;
Ronnie Belliard is 8-for-22 off Olsen with 2 HR and 5 RBI;
Rafael Furcal is 3-for-8 off Olsen;
Matt Kemp is 3-for-4 with 2 RBI off Olsen;
Russ Martin is 3-for-3 with 2 HR and 3 RBI off Olsen.
If this was any year but 2010, I'd advocate a play on Billingsley, but he's lost. A 7.07 ERA thus far this year, and despite his dominance of the Nationals, there is just no way I lay that price on a guy struggling like Chad. Scott Olsen will give up some runs, too, so someone will probably win this with an offensive outburst from the 6th inning on.

Pirates @ Astros (-185) with a total of 9.5; C. Morton vs. B. Myers;
Lastings Milledge is 5-for-14 off Brett Myers;
Lance Berkman is 4-for-5 with a HR and 4 RBI off Morton;
Michael Bourn and Carlos Lee are each 3-for-9 off Morton;
Kaz Matsui is 3-for-5 off Morton.
I learned my lesson in betting on Charlie Morton last time out. This kid is all over the place, now 0-3 on the year with a 16.55 ERA! Brett Myers is a 2.64 ERA pitcher against Pittsburgh in his career. The large ML means I won't take Astros, and Charlie Morton means I won't take Pirates. Pass.

Cubs @ Brewers (-125) with a total of 8.5; R. Wells vs. D. Bush;
Kosuke Fukudome is 8-for-17 with a HR and 3 RBI off Bush;
Aramis Ramirez is 9-for-30 with 3 HR and 11 RBI off Bush since '05;
Alfonso Soriano is batting .308 off Bush since '05 with a HR and 4 RBI;
Ryan Braun is 4-for-9 off Wells;
Jody Gerut is 3-for-5 with a HR and 4 RBI.
The Brewers have been run over in each of the first two games of this series, and now suddenly Dave Bush is a -125 favorite? Something doesn't quite add up, especially since he's a 2-8 lifetime pitcher against the Cubs, and Randy Wells is looking solid so far this year. Fishy line, for sure. I'm giving this one a twice over.

Cardinals @ Giants (-125) with a total of 7.5; B. Penny vs. M. Cain;
Albert Pujols is 5-for-9 with a HR and 4 RBI off Cain since '05;
Mark DeRosa is 5-for-8 with a HR and 2 RBI off Penny since '05;
Bengie Molina is 9-for-20 with 2 RBI off Penny since '05;
Edgar Renteria is 6-for-10 with 2 RBI off Penny since '05.
The Giants remain a very, very strong home team, but Cain is actually just 1-1 with a 4.94 ERA against St. Louis in his career. Somewhat interesting considering Pujols is really the only Cardinal with any success against him. The resurgent Brad Penny is 2-0 this season with a 1.29 ERA, and that big lug is just rolling along. This one could be decided with very few runs, so thanks, but no thanks. Pass.

Phillies (-120) @ D'backs with a total of 11; K. Kendrick vs. R. Lopez;
Juan Castro is 3-for-8 off Lopez;
Ryan Howard is 3-for-5 with a HR off Lopez;
Raul Ibanez is 7-for-17 off Lopez;
Brian Schneider is 4-for-7 off Lopez;
Kelly Johnson is 5-for-16 off Kendrick.
That total of 11 is just insane. Another slugfest in the Valley of the Sun, so how do we really decide which team has the edge? I'd argue neither really does. No edge, no particularly large ML values, means no bet. Pass.

Marlins @ Rockies (-175) with a total of 9.5; C. Volstad vs. J. De La Rosa;
Jorge Cantu is 3-for-7 off De La Rosa with a HR and 2 RBI;
Ronny Paulino is 3-for-7 off De La Rosa;
Hanley Ramirez is 5-for-11 with 2 RBI off De La Rosa;
Dan Uggla is 4-for-10 with 3 RBI off De La Rosa;
Cody Ross is 3-for-8 off the Rockies' starter;
Carlos Gonzalez is 2-for-3 off Volstad with a HR;
Troy Tulowitzki is 4-for-8 off Volstad with a HR.
Volstad, interestingly, is 2-2 with a 3.50 ERA against the Rox, and De La Rosa's weak spot appears to be the Marlins, as he's 2-4 against Florida with a 7.03 career ERA, and as you can see from the notes above, these guys hit him hard. We know he's gotten better, and he deals with Coors better now than ever before, but at this huge underdog price, I might look at the Marlins.

Braves (-120) @ Mets with a total of 7.5; T. Hanson vs. M. Pelfrey;
Chipper Jones is 6-for-18 with a 2 HR and 3 RBI off Pelfrey;
Brian McCann is 12-for-27 with a HR and 7 RBI off Pelfrey;
Martin Prado is 4-for-9 with a HR off Pelfrey.
Tommy Hanson is a perfect 1-0 against Atlanta, not allowing a run against them. Pelfrey, despite his electric start to the season at 3-0, 0.86 ERA, has struggled with Atlanta in his career, posting a 2-5 mark and 6.09 ERA. This is the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN, so the spotlight is going to be on, and I worry the Mets might not be able to score any runs. This one needs more analysis, but slight early lean to Atlanta.

American League

Orioles @ Red Sox (-160) with a total of 10; D. Hernandez vs. T. Wakefield;
Luke Scott is 2-for-4 off Wakefield;
Miguel Tejada is 12-for-27 off Wakefield since '05, with a HR and 4 RBI;
Kevin Youkilis is 3-for-10 with 2 HR and 2 RBI off Hernandez;
Adrian Beltre and Mike Lowell are each 2-for-3 off Hernandez;
Dustin Pedroia is just 3-for-11 but all 3 hits are homers off Hernandez.
This line feels about right, considering how awful the Orioles have been, and how unpredictable Wakefield has been. Is there a reason to really lean in either direction? I suppose you could argue this is a cheap price on Boston at home against a terrible opponent, so maybe weather patterns are telling oddsmakers the knuckler isn't going to knuckle? Pass.

Blue Jays @ Rays (-230) with a total of 9; B. Morrow vs. D. Price;
Jose Bautista is 2-for-6 with a HR off Price;
Aaron Hill was 3-for-7 with a HR off Price;
Adam Lind is 3-for-7 off Price;
Vernon Wells is 3-for-8 off Price.
Brandon Morrow has pitched very poorly so far this season, but is actually solid against the Rays in his career, with a 1.86 ERA against Tampa overall. Still, Price is really starting to come into his own, and the Rays are dangerous, especially at home. Too much risk on the fave, not enough reward on the dog. Pass.

Mariners @ White Sox (-160) with a total of 7.5; J. Vargas vs. J. Danks;
Milton Bradley is 3-for-8 off Danks with a HR;
Jose Lopez is 7-for-16 off Danks.
Not much data for the Sox against Vargas, though he's been alright so far this year. Can the Mariners finally close the deal against the Sox, though? Danks is just 1-4 against Seattle in his career, though you can see Jose Lopez is really the only current Mariner with "big" numbers against him. This line is probably about right.

Twins (-142) @ Royals with a total of 9.5; K. Slowey vs. B. Bannister;
Alexi Casilla is 4-for-13 off Bannister;
Michael Cuddyer is 8-for-19 with 2 HR and 5 RBI off Bannister before this year;
Justin Morneau was 9-for-25 with 2 HR and 4 RBI off Bannister prior to this season;
Denard Span was 6-for-17 off Bannister;
Jim Thome is 8-for-24 off Bannister with 3 HR and 4 RBI;
Alberto Callaspo is 3-for-8 off Slowey;
David DeJesus is 5-for-14 with a HR and 7 RBI off Slowey;
Jose Guillen is 4-for-13 with 2 RBI off Slowey.
A lot of offensive numbers here, but Slowey, when push comes to shove, is a perfect 4-0, 3.30 ERA against the Royals, and the Twins just beat KC in extra innings last night, which bodes very poorly for the Royals pen today. No real value on the Royals, considering the Twins, though the price is a little high for road chalk.

Tigers @ Rangers (-130) with a total of 9; R. Porcello vs. C. Lewis;
No one has really seen anyone else, here, in this starting pitching match-up, but what we've seen the last couple nights is that the Tigers are more comfortable hitting against the Rangers than most other teams. Rick Porcello is off to a rough start, while his counterpart, Colby Lewis, is pitching well. I'd probably leave this one alone.

Yankees (-135) @ Angels with a total of 10; J. Vazquez vs. S. Kazmir;
Jorge Posada was 10-for-23 off Kazmir since '05 with a HR and 4 RBI;
Mark Teixeira was 7-for-11 with 3 RBI off Kazmir before their meeting a couple weeks back;
Bobby Abreu was 4-for-11 with all 4 hits HRs, and 7 RBI off Vazquez.
Neither of these two hurlers pitched well against this particular opponent the last chance they got, with Kazmir getting bopped by New York, then Vazquez by the Angels on a different day. However, Kazmir altered his delivery in his last start, and pitched pretty well against the Tigers, easily his best start of the season so far. Vazquez admits to still struggling with the mechanics on his fastball, and if that continues, the Angels could very well tag him for a few more runs. Lean to LA.

Indians @ Athletics (-115) with a total of 8.5; J. Masterson vs. G. Gonzalez;
Gabe Gross is 4-for-7 with a HR and 2 RBI off Masterson;
This is a strikingly low price on a home team, the A's, that hasn't been playing all that poorly, especially against the Indians, who are just starting to get a little respect. In any case, to me, this line is fishy. The A's had beat the Indians 6 straight times before yesterday's loss, and moved the A's to just 12-3 against Cleveland over their last 15 meetings. So, we have all that going against Cleveland, yet this line opens near a Pick? Indians or nothing, I would think.

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